COLUMBIA — Columbia Public Schools scored a 70% on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's annual performance report for the 2021-2022 school year. That places one of the state's largest school districts in the bottom half of the state's report.
The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) sets expectations for a schools' practices and student outcomes. It's used to create an Annual Performance Report (APR) for each school district, or local education agency (LEA), across the state.
The state is now in MSIP 6, meaning APR 2022 is the pilot year for the new program which focuses on scoring an LEA on its student performance and efforts for continuous improvement.
More that 550 LEAs were scored for the APR 2022 and Columbia Public Schools was among the bottom 120 schools with the lowest percentages scored. Here is a breakdown of some mid-Missouri school's scores:
- Mexico 59: 66.4% of points earned
- Boonville R-I: 68.1% of points earned
- Columbia Public Schools: 70% of points earned
- Jefferson City School District: 70.9% of points earned
- Fulton 59: 73.3% of points earned
- Cole County R-V: 81.6% of points earned
- Cole County RI: 82.5% of points earned
So what do these percentages mean? Lisa Sireno, the assistant commissioner of DESE's Office of Quality Schools, said these percentages are what LEAs earned out of the total possible points in the APR.
"These standards and indicators are designed to establish a new method for us to understand the extent to which students are meeting the expectations in the Missouri learning standards and obtaining the necessary skills and knowledge of what comes next for each of them," Sireno said.
The APR is a primary factor in the classification of school districts across the state. Because this is the pilot year of MSIP 6, APR 2022 will not affect classification or teacher evaluation.
"It's only one among many factors that parents and communities consider when they think about how districts and schools serve their local communities," Sireno said.
APR 2022 cannot easily be compared to APRs from previous years because it is uses a new scale for determining scores. While it only shows the data from the 2021-2022 school year across the state, Margie Vandeven, the commissioner of education at DESE, said the data does show the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and how that disproportionately affects some student groups.
"Many of our systems are stressed," Vandeven said. "It's our responsibility to respond to what that data is telling us."
Each LEA has a total possible point amount proportionate to its district. For CPS, the district earned only 50% of points in the academic achievement status for English/language arts (ELA), math and science.
CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said following this report, math is an area of concern for the district.
"Nationwide school districts have experienced an impact in math post COVID," Baumstark said. "The district has begun implementation of several strategies to help improve achievement, including more data awareness to better address necessary areas of improvement and intervention, multi-tiered systems of support, and expanded tutoring opportunities."
Baumstark identified ICAP and attendance as two other areas for further evaluation. ICAP, or individual career and academic plan, in CPS has yet to be updated to meet the new MSIP 6 requirements. Baumstark said plans are in place to make sure this changes for next year, but she did not identify those plans.
As for attendance, Baumstark said the district has already made this a priority for the current school year. Remember, this data was taken during the 2021-2022 school year. To get full points in attendance, which CPS has a score of 0 right now, 90% of CPS students must be in school 90% of the time.
Current school board member Katherine Sasser said they're seeing success every day with their new efforts.
"We've seen improvement in attendance just by making explicit communication with families about attendance and incentivizing being at school," Sasser said. "We're really putting a targeted effort on helping students and families understand how we want you here, how important it is for you to be here, and there's nothing like being in a classroom to get what you need."
Attendance is an issue across the state. More than 100 LEAs across the statewide APR scored a 0 for attendance. Vandeven said minimizing the high-levels of absences is a priority across the state.
"Addressing chronic absenteeism often calls for a community-wide response," Vandeven said. "Students must be present to learn."
CPS received most of its points in continuous improvement. Students had above-average growth in ELA and are on track or on target in social studies, graduation rates, post-secondary outcomes and the number of students taking college level or advanced training courses.
CPS school board member Helen Wade said the APR data was bleak but not shocking.
"We were presented with an update by our superintendent which contains some fairly dismal data," Wade said. "It's not unique to Columbia Public Schools. COVID and the circumstances that were attached to it had a significant impact on student learning."
While this data won't be used to change distinction, Vandeven said it's a starting point to improve schools across the state.
"No matter where a child is in our state, zip code shouldn't matter," Vandeven said. "They should have access to great education."